Everyone knows the real July 4th show happens AFTER the official NPS fireworks; by way of alleyways and sidewalks all over the city. If you have access to a 360° view rooftop, you'll likely be entertained with DIY firework displays from as far away as Silver Spring and Alexandria, often ending well after midnight.
There is also plenty to do before the big show, that don't involve fireworks. Here are some of the other events happening Thursday
Declaration of Independence Reading: This is cool. Historic interpreters (Thomas Jefferson et al.) will stage a dramatic reading of the Declaration of Independence. Then it will be stolen again -for real- by Nick Cage. I heard a rumor he was broke. At the National Archives from 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM.
Smithsonian Folk Life Festival: I used to flock to this cultural overload of a festival religiously each year. Haven't gone in a while, but need to get back into it this year. Same three-tiered format of investigations into world and domestic cultural affectations: Hungarian Heritage: Roots to Revival, One World, Many Voices: Endangered Languages & Cultural Heritage, and Will to Adorn: African American Identity and the Aesthetics of Dress. There is a full schedule of events this Thursday. It's on the National Mall between 14th and 9th Sts.
Nationals Baseball Game: Not sure why the Nats don't wear their patriotic jerseys for every game. They really love America (i.e. the military). A lot. They do wear them on Memorial Day, and July 4th. In addition to wearing the special jerseys, the Nationals will pause the game after the third inning so Neil Diamond can perform his new song, "Freedom Song," live. He'll perform it again at the Capitol Fourth celebration later in the evening. As of this morning there are lots of tickets left for this game, which has an early first pitch time of 11:05 AM.
National Independence Day Parade: Never been to this one. The official National Independence Day Parade will begin at 11:45 AM from 7th St and Constitution Ave NW and run until about 2:00 PM, finishing at 17th and Constitution. It won't be televised this year, so if you want to see it, you'll have to be there in person. Participants.
Capitol Fourth Concert: A Capitol Fourth is generally considered the official event for Independence Day. It's broadcast on PBS and happens on the west lawn of the United States Capitol Building just before the big fireworks show. This event is open to the public and free! The temporary gates to the west lawn will open at 3:00 PM. You should arrive by 6:00 PM to get a decent seat in order to see the concert. The show starts at 8:00 PM. It will run until 9:30 PM. The host is Tom Bergeron (Dancing With The Stars). Other performers include Barry Manilow, Neil Diamond, and Megan Hilty. No, there will be no Tony Danza this year. BUMMER.
Fireworks!: The official NPS Fireworks display will begin at 9:10 PM and have a duration of 17 minutes. They are launched over the Reflecting Pool and can bee seen from roof tops all over the District, some of Northern Virginia, as well as the National Mall, of course.
Be safe everyone!